Deb 01 August 1924 vol 59 cc264-6

My Lords, I understand that the Government are prepared to make a statement about Ireland.


With your Lordships' permission I will read the Question and Answer given in the House of Commons:

"MR. BALDWIN asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies whether His Majesty's Government have yet received the Report of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council on the questions submitted to them arising out of Article XII of the Articles of Agreement for a Treaty between Great Britain and Ireland.

"THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES (MR. THOMAS): Yes, Sir. The Report was presented to His Majesty in Council yesterday afternoon, and will be laid before Parliament as soon as it is printed. The effect of the Report of the Judicial Committee on the first four questions submitted to them is that the refusal of the Government of Northern Ireland to appoint a member of the Commission is acasus improvisus in the Act of Parliament implementing the Treaty; that is to say that it is a contingency which was Dot foreseen at the date of the passing of the Act, and that, if the Government of Northern Ireland maintain that refusal, there is no constitutional means under the existing Statutes of bringing the Commission into existence.

"The House will perceive that this Report raises grave issues. His Majesty's Government have no doubt that it was the intention of Parliament, when they approved and ratified the Treaty, that, in the event of the Government of Northern Ireland exercising their option under Article XII, the Commission to be appointed under the proviso to that Article should, in fact, be appointed; and they feel that they are bound in honour to secure, so far as lies within their power, that that intention is carried into effect. They most earnestly hope that, even at this late stage, the Government of Northern Ireland may see their way to appoint a representative on the Commission: but I must make it clear that if that hope is not fulfilled the Government propose forthwith to introduce legislation to give effect to what was the undoubted intention of the Treaty, and to press for the passage of that legislation through Parliament regardless of consequences to themselves. Not merely the honour of His Majesty's Government, but the honour of this country, is involved in seeing that an obligation definitely imposed on the United Kingdom by a Treaty is fulfilled in spirit and in letter, and my colleagues and I are not prepared to omit any step which is in our view necessary to place the good faith of Parliament and of the British people beyond question.